Three weeks in South Africa, all over now until the next time. I just hope it’s not another 5 years! Now fabric shopping on holiday sounds like a fabulous thing to do, buy up all those pretty things you can’t get at home and grab those things that are cheaper elsewhere because of a decent exchange rate. I really wanted to go with a fairly empty suitcase, to take full advantage of my situation, but I’d made so many lovely things for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe that were begging to be allowed into the suitcase that I ended up with just 3 kg to spare! Oops.
No matter, some stuff taken was to be distributed, so I thought I’d do my bit to help the local economy. Now I must add that Mr Not-Compulsive tried very hard not to let me within 5km of a fabric store, but in the end he relented. I was directed to a store/factory shop in Roodeport called Chamdor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large fabric store! It was a warehouse! Thankfully half was soft-furnishing fabric and half the dressmaking fabric was stuff I wasn’t interested in. There was a lot of fleece (going into winter), lycra and poly-blends.
I saw a girl who was guarding a couple of rolls of border printed viscose & after asking nicely where she’d found them, proceeded to empty the shelves! There were so many lovely colours and patterns, it was going to be a struggle to decide which couldn’t be left behind. The price was R56/m, which I worked out to being about £2.25/m. Man – how could I leave anything behind at that price!?!?
Then I found the button stands and the trim and the zips and the threads and sewing machine accessories…. £55 later I emerged triumphant, two bags in my hands and a husband who kept saying, “I don’t know where you’re going to put all this.”
And then I was good, oh so good. I avoided all other fabric temptations until we got to the Eastern Cape. Da Gama Textiles is based in that province and they are the sole manufacturer of authentic Shweshwe fabric. I was going to have some to bring home, come hell or high water. The factory shop is located outside of East London and boy was there a lot to choose from! Original indigo sat side by side with teal and turquoise, greens, reds, pinks, oranges and browns. This was going to be harder than I thought!
In the end I bought a deep turquoise piece for a dress for Daughter No2, an orange circle print for Del and a striking red design that reminds me of Mid-Century Modern prints for a friend in Chicago.
Now some of you know exactly what I have here, and others wondering what on earth Shweshwe is. I could go into a huge explanation, but there are many sites you can find the information on, Meerkat Shweshwe sell many different ranges online and have a history of the origins of the cloth, Da Gama obviously have their background in the industry, and African Fabric have good information, as well as a huge range of coloured and original indigo Shweshwe for sale online.
While we were at Da Gama Textiles, we did a bit of bin diving. Da Gama print more than just Shweshwe. There are big fabric bins in the factory shop full of test prints, seconds etc that you buy by the kilogram. We had a little hunt for different pieces of mostly soft furnishing fabrics, and came out with a good selection of bits and pieces that I’ll use to make cushion covers, table runners and other goodies for the summer table outside. And that was it! Once we’d distributed all the gifts we’d taken to all our friends and family, there was plenty of room for the fabric purchases. And 40 vintage patterns….
And now we come to the crunch. I really don’t need to buy any more fabric this year. No, seriously, I don’t. So I made a pledge, and told Mr Not-Compulsive, so I have to stick with it.
Now I have a fabric diet to stick to and things to make…